Cisco has released findings from two global studies that provide a vivid picture of the rising security challenges that businesses, IT departments and individuals face, particularly as employees become more mobile in blending work and personal lifestyles throughout their waking hours.
Despite popular assumptions that security risks increase as a person's online activity becomes shadier, findings from Cisco's 2013 Annual Security Report (ASR) reveal that the highest concentration of online security threats do not target pornography, pharmaceutical or gambling sites as much as they do legitimate destinations visited by mass audiences, such as major search engines, retail sites and social media outlets. In fact, Cisco found that online shopping sites are 21 times as likely, and search engines are 27 times as likely, to deliver malicious content than a counterfeit software site. Viewing online advertisements? Advertisements are 182 as times likely to deliver malicious content than pornography.
Security risks rise in businesses because many employees adopt "my way" work lifestyles in which their devices, work and online behavior mix with their personal lives virtually anywhere - in the office, at home and everywhere in between. The business security implications of this "consumerization" trend are magnified by a second set of findings from the Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR), which provides insight into the attitudes of the world's next generation of workers, Generation Y.
According to the study, most Generation Y employees believe the age of privacy is over (91%), but one third say that they are not worried about all the data that is stored and captured about them. They are willing to sacrifice personal information for socialization online. In fact, more Generation Y workers globally said they feel more comfortable sharing personal information with retail sites than with their own employers' IT departments - departments that are paid to protect employee identities and devices.
As Generation Y graduates from college and enters the workforce in greater numbers, they test corporate cultures and policies with expectations of social media freedom, device choice, and mobile lifestyles that the generations before them never demanded. As the first chapter of the Connected World Technology Report, Gen Y is constantly checking social media, email and text updates, whether it's in bed (3 of 4 surveyed globally), at the dinner table (almost half), in the bathroom (1 of 3), or while driving (1 of 5). That lifestyle is entering work environments in greater numbers, spotlighting the future of work and how companies must consider competing for the next wave of talent. Unfortunately, what the security studies show is the next-generation workforce's lifestyles are also introducing security challenges that companies have never had to address on this scale, said the study.